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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How Winning Leads to Cheating

By Jordana Cepelewicz
Scientific American
Originally published on February 2, 2016

We live, for better or for worse, in a competition-driven world. Rivalry powers our economy, sparks technological innovation and encourages academic discovery. But it also compels people to manipulate the system and commit crimes. Some figure it’s just easier—and even acceptable—to cheat.

But what if instead of examining how people behave in a competitive setting, we wanted to understand the consequences of competition on their everyday behavior? That is exactly what Amos Schurr, a business and management professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Ilana Ritov, a psychologist at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discuss in a study in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “How can it be,” Schurr asks, “that successful, distinguished people—take [former New York State Gov.] Eliot Spitzer, who I think was a true civil servant when he started out his career with good intentions—turn corrupt? At the same time, you have other successful people, like Mother Theresa, who don’t become corrupt. What distinguishes between these two types of successful people?”

The article is here.